Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
The Roan heifer fills your eye, with her striking shades of red and dapples of white; a real cow-maker.
They are hard to buy - I know!
Especially if a nicely marked heifer comes with a good square shape to her: a decent end and shoulder, a good tight heifer, and finished off by a nice even top-line that you could put a spirit level on. And if, to complete the picture, the Roan heifer has a quiet temperament and carries herself with a bit of style, then half the country will be after her.
Cattle have gone down in price. But a good Roan heifer still holds her value. There’s that special something about her. We want to lean over the gate and enjoy her grazing in our field with our cows. We want her to be ours.
I can’t help feeling that despite living in a world where everything is open to question, many of us have at least a sneaking suspicion that we want Jesus to be ours. On a different level altogether to the Roan heifer, we have a hunch, despite our doubts, that there is that something special, utterly unique in fact, about Jesus that draws us to him.
Perhaps you are drawn to Jesus, but you come with a jumble of doubts. It may be that sadness, even tragedy, has wrecked your world. It may be that the dark cloud of depression seems to hover over you wherever you go. It may be that you come with intellectual doubts about other religions, science or moral issues? We are all different, with different barriers shutting us off from Jesus and his unique loving care.
But help has come to us through a hint of Roan: the purest white of Jesus’ life which he gave up for us on a blood-red stained cross. It is often overlooked that on the cross Jesus died between two criminals. While one criminal mocked him, the other recognised that there is something utterly unique about Jesus.
This brought the thief to admit his guilt to Jesus and trust him as his only hope, ‘But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said (to the criminal who mocked Jesus), “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”’(Luke 23:40-42).
This man looked into his own heart, saw his own failures and trusted in Jesus as his only hope for forgiveness and a place in God’s kingdom. And he wasn’t disappointed. ‘Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:43).
Here is part of what makes Jesus special, unique, and draws us to Him: Jesus offers His incredible hope to people, ordinary people like you and me, who absolutely don’t deserve it. If we honestly look at our lives, see our failures, and ask God to forgive and forget, He will. God can offer us His hope, because of the red Roan-stained cross of Jesus, where Jesus dealt with all of our sin, so that we can be part of His kingdom, forever. This, for us, is the most special thing about Jesus. And if we ask Him, Jesus will make us special to Him, forever.
Rev. Kenny Hanna is minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church and grew up on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne.
If you would like to talk to someone about this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.